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Black River State ForestCamping information

Reserve
a campsite at Black River State Forest.

Overview

Firewood restriction

Due to potential of emerald ash borer infestaion, firewood from out of state, or from more than 25 miles away from a Wisconsin state park or forest property, is not allowed. Also, firewood that has been in the Wisconsin emerald ash borer quarantined area [exit DNR] is not allowed on properties outside of the quarantined area. Please buy firewood at or near the park or forest where you are going. Call the DNR toll-free Firewood Hotline, 877-303-WOOD (877-303-9663) for information before packing for a trip.

Accessibility

Campsites that have been specifically modified to fit ADA accessibility standards are reserved for those with disabilities, unless stated otherwise.

  • Castle Mound family campground: 1 electric accessible site, accessible shower, paved walking path.
  • East Fork family campground: No accessible sites.
  • Indoor group camp: The cabin is ADA compliant, but not reserved for campers with disabilities.
  • Outdoor group camp: No accessible sites.
  • Pigeon Creek family campground: 1 non-electric accessible site.

Reservations

Reservations are accepted at all campgrounds. Make an online reservation or call 1-888-947-2757.

Castle Mound campground can be reserved from May 1 through early October. Pigeon Creek and East Fork campgrounds can be reserved from the Thursday before Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. The indoor group camp can be reserved year round, while the outdoor group camp can be reserved from mid-April through November 30. Outside of these seasons, campgrounds are first come first served if open.

Camping seasons

The indoor group camp is open year round.  The outdoor group camp and East Fork campground are open from mid-April through the end of November. Pigeon Creek and Castle Mound are open year round, although only a few sites are plowed open.

Fees

A vehicle admissions sticker is required to camp at the family and group campgrounds. The current camping fees are updated annually. There are no fees for either backpack or hunter camping, but filling out a free permit is required.

Safety precaution

The forest is open to small game and deer hunting. To ensure your safety during the hunting seasons, avoid wearing brown or white clothing while in the woods. Instead, wear blaze orange or bright colors, including a blaze orange hat. You can look up hunting seasons on the DNR hunting pages.

Campground types

Campgrounds come in a number of different categories. On one end of the spectrum, the campground is very developed with paved walking paths and modern plumbing. On the other end it could merely be a previously cleared tent pad with no bathroom or drinking water amenities.

  • Modern campgrounds - Provide showers, flush toilets and running tap water.
  • Rustic campgrounds – Provides only vault toilets and hand-pump wells for drinking water.
  • Primitive or Remote campsites – A diverse group, these campsites can include a range and any combination of the following amenities: pit toilets, open air toilets, no toilets, hand-pump drinking water well, or no drinking water access.

See the campground tabs for a description about each of the campgrounds on this property.

Campgrounds

Castle Mound Campground

Map [PDF]

This modern family campground is open year-round and has a total of 35 sites. There are 29 non-electric and 14 electric sites. There is 1 electric ADA designated site. Make an online reservation or call 1-888-947-2757.

Campground includes an accessible shower building, accessible flush and vault toilet buildings, firewood sales, indoor picnic shelter, garbage and recycling station, and sanitary dump station.

Castle Mound is reservable from May 1 through early October. Outside of these dates, all sites are available on a first come, first served basis. A limited number of sites are plowed open in the winter.

Directions

Castle Mound serves as the recreational headquarters of the property and is located on highway 12. From Interstate 94, take Black River Falls exit 116 and travel west on highway 54 into Black River Falls. Drive to the third set of traffic lights. Turn left (south) onto highway 12/27, then turn left (east) onto highway 12. The campground is located approximately one mile east on highway 12.

GPS coordinates: 44.283922, -90.828786

East Fork Campground

Map [PDF]

This rustic family campground is open from mid-April to the end of the deer gun season in November. There are a total of 24 sites, all are non-electric and there are no ADA designated sites.

Campground includes 2 vault toilet buildings, hand pump water, firewood sales, garbage and recycling station, and canoe access to the East Fork of the Black River. Make an online reservation or call 1-888-947-2757.

Twelve of the sites are reservable from the Thursday before Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. After Labor Day weekend, all sites are available on a first come, first served basis where self-register is required. This campground is closed from December 1 through April 14.

Directions

This family campground is located at the north end of the forest on Campground Road, southeast of Hatfield. Half of its 24 sites are situated along the banks of the East Fork of the Black River.

From Interstate 94, take exit 116 onto highway 54, proceed east 7.4 miles and turn left (north) onto Cemetery Road. At four miles when Cemetery Road ends, take a right onto Old Highway 54. Travel 0.5 miles and take a left onto Campground Road. After 1.5 miles the indoor group camp will be on the left, the outdoor group camp will be on the right, and a half mile past this is East Fork campground.

GPS coordinates: 44.421398, -90.678685

Pigeon Creek Campground

Map [PDF]

This is rustic family campground is open year-round with a total of 38 sites all non-electric and there is 1 non-electric ADA designated site. Make an online reservation or call 1-888-947-2757.

The campground includes three vault toilet buildings, hand pump water, firewood sales, garbage and recycling center, canoe launch, swimming beach, and access to interpretive and off-road bike trails.

19 of the sites are reservable from the Thursday before Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. After Labor Day weekend all sites are available on a 1st-come, 1st-served basis where self-register is required. There are five sites kept plowed open during the winter.

Directions

This campground is located just off of North Settlement Road close to the town of Millston. From Interstate 94, take Millston exit 128. Travel east on County Road O for approximately one-quarter mile, then turn left onto North Settlement Road. Campground is located two miles north on North Settlement Road.

GPS coordinates: 44.214579, -90.616790

Indoor group camp

The modern group camp is a secluded and quiet indoor four-season facility that can sleep 12. There are wood bunks in the cabin as well as a stove, refrigerator, gas fireplace, heated floors and a bathroom with a shower. This facility is ADA compliant, but is not reserved specifically for those with a handicap. Make an online reservation or call 1-888-947-2757.

An additional rustic outdoor area accommodates a maximum of 50 people in tents and trailers. Water, pit toilets, picnic tables, cooking grills, fire rings and a dog kennel are also available. The site is handicap accessible. To learn more, see our group camp information sheet [PDF].

Directions

This campground is located at the north end of the forest on Campground Road, near East Fork Family Campground which is southeast of Hatfield.

From Interstate 94, take exit 116 onto highway 54, proceed east 7.4 miles and turn left (north) onto Cemetery Road. At four miles when Cemetery Road ends, take a right onto Old Highway 54. Travel half a mile and take a left onto Campground Road. After 1.5 miles the indoor group camp will be on the left.

GPS coordinates: 44.415329, -90.688319

Popularity

Because it is extremely popular with visitors, the group camp facility is frequently occupied, especially during summer and fall. If you are interested in staying at the group camp, you should plan to reserve the facility several months ahead to ensure availability.

Outdoor group camp

This new outdoor group camp is located in the northern part of the state forest close to Hatfield and Lake Arbutus. This site can accommodate up to 50 individuals and provides parking for up to eight wheeled camping units. The site is rustic but offers a new vault toilet building, water, firewood, picnic tables and a large open play area. The site is open from mid-April through November 30th and can be reserved through Reserve America.

Directions

From Interstate 94, take exit 116 onto highway 54, proceed east 7.4 miles and turn left (north) onto Cemetery Road. At four miles when Cemetery Road ends, take a right onto Old Highway 54. Travel half a mile and take a left onto Campground Road. After 1.5 miles the outdoor group camp will be on the right.

GPS coordinates: 44.417475, -90 44. 675101

Primitive off-site camping

Backpacking

The forest offers a great primitive camping experience though backpack camping, which is allowed anywhere on the forest with the exception of Hawk Island. We encourage first-time backpackers to use the Wildcat, Red Oak or Ridge trails. Drinking water is available at the Wildcat and Smrekar Trail parking lots and at each designated campground.

Please observe the forest's Carry In/Carry Out policy by packing your trash and recyclables out with you. You may use dead and downed wood as firewood, but do not cut live trees or brush. Make sure your campfire is out before you leave.

Printed versions of our trail map [PDF] are available at the campground contact station, or you can purchase topographic maps from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey [exit DNR].

A free Special Camp permit is required and can be picked up at the Castle Mound Campground or the Black River Falls DNR Service Center. The permit can be filled out online, or, if you’d like us to mail you one, please see our contact information in the Forest info tab.

Backpackers must camp at least one mile away from your vehicle and 100 feet from any designated trail or road. You may park your vehicle in any trail or picnic area parking lot.

Hunter camping

Similar to backpacking, hunter camping provides another way to camp primitively. To camp during the nine-day gun deer season, hunters must obtain a camping permit prior to opening day of the season. Locations for camping are restricted so please see our hunter camping information sheet [PDF] for more details.

Permits are free and can be filled out online or picked up at either the DNR Service Center in Black River Falls, or from state forest office. Also, please review the Department of Natural Resource's hunting regulations when planning your hunting trip.

Canoe camping

Two primitive canoe campsites are available south of Black River Falls. These campsites are on the east side of the river and include a picnic table, fire ring and portable toilet. The sites are available on a 1st-come, 1st-served basis and limited to a one night stay.

For additional information, including a map of canoe landings, see our Paddling the Black River brochure [PDF].

Last Revised: Monday February 24 2014